RECENTLY the Poverty Truth Commission published our 'One year on' report which looks back at the work that has been done over the last year since the 'Findings of the Commission' were published at its closing gathering in April 2011 and also sets out our plans for the future. To read the report, and other reports and articles about the Poverty Truth Commission, please visit our website. As part of the report we set out our hopes for future work as the original members of the Commission have decided that there is still much for the Commission to do using our unique experience.
One area of work we will develop over the next year is to continue and expand our support for people living in poverty to have the confidence to speak out about their experience and realise their expertise. We have already started meeting with new commissioners to help them to develop their story and to look at the issues they would like to explore.
At the same time we hope to work with a number of people in positions of power who would like to have develop skills in listening to the realities of poverty and in turn use that knowledge to impact on their area of work. We hope then to bring the two groups of people together in the same way as the first group of commissioners to hear from one another and hopefully find a way of working together to make lasting change.
This work is already happening within the Mentoring Scheme which is currently being piloted with the Scottish Government, where Civil Servants from policy areas that deal with Community Justice, Public Health and Public Service reform are being mentored by people drawn from communities that have a direct experience of poverty and inequality.
Elaine Downie, Development Worker for the Poverty Truth Commission, is leading on this area of work. She commented "too often, people living with the reality of poverty feel they have nothing of importance to say, or no-one to listen seriously to them without pity or blame. We believe and have experienced the opposite.
Meeting people who know best the struggles of poverty in their own communities we listen and listen again to the stories they have to tell us, encouraging them to recognise the importance of their opinions and ideas and to see how they feed into policies that are being created at local and national levels.
We then bring them together with some of the people who create and shape these policies in true conversation. As relationships develop, change blooms. People living with the reality of poverty have much to say, often with great creativity and eloquence. Watch out for our latest films and blog posts, or visit our facebook page for the change to be part of the conversation."